Swine Break '09

We decided to keep Nicholas home from school today because of the spread of swine flu. Some people may think we're silly about this and that we're being worried over nothing. It's not that we are really concerned about Nicholas getting sick from swine flu but with his and Rachel's respiratory problems there is no reason to take any chances. Nicholas gets a daily breathing treatment to help keep his problems under control. But at times in the past, both of them have been close to going to the hospital because of wheezing and low oxygen levels in their blood. For either of them, catching the flu - whether it's swine flu or the regular seasonal flu - could be dangerous. The chances may be slim that any of us could catch the swine flu but we are responsible for the health and well-being of these two little people and we have to do whatever we can to keep them safe.

So we'll have a second Spring Break (or is it Swine Break?) at home until this thing blows over. What fun!

Montessori Open House and Art Show

Montessori had an open house and art show for students' parents. It's a nice time to get together with other parents and the teachers. Here he is with his two teachers. They are both so sweet and I know he will miss them next year when he's in Kindergarten.

Of course, Rachel always gets lots of attention from the teachers too. They just love to hold her.

We got to see some of the neat art work that Nicholas has made including a mobil made out of recycled materials, a layered sand bottle, a giant butterfly, and more. It was also fun for Nicholas to go into his classroom and show us around and show off his favorite activities.

Here he is showing us the Montessori Numerical Rods. These rods give a hands-on interactive tool for learning basic counting, learning about relationships of numbers to each other, i.e. 3 is more than 2, as well as learning about addition and subtraction. And it is self-correcting so a child can realize a mistake without the assistance of the teacher. Nicholas really impresses me with his math skills so I wasn't surprised that he went to this activity first.

Nicholas also showed us how to use the geo boards. These boards each have different patterns of upright pegs and the child uses rubber bands wrapped around the pegs in various configurations to make different geometric shapes. Here he is also making a drawing of his geometric shapes.

Next Nicholas showed us his metal inset drawing. Metal Insets were designed by Maria Montessori to teach handwriting. They are metal stencils that come in ten basic shapes. The thick, sturdy metal frame teaches the child control of his pencil as it acts as a guide. The child draws around the inside of the frame – counterclockwise, the same direction most round letters are formed. Then he places the shape piece on the paper and traces around the outside of it. Next he uses free hand to draw the lines across the shape to mimic the other strokes in letter formation. Nicholas has gotten so much better with this project in the last year.

Here Nicholas is showing us the Montessori Touch Board. The board consists of 10 circles each lined with a different texture. The 10 red pegs have matching textures on their underside. The child feels the texture on a red peg without looking at it and then tries to match the feel of the texture on the peg to the textures on the board. I really had fun with this one!

I just love the Montessori Method. It is full of hands-on, interactive works that are fun and interesting while they teach and guide.

I Love U Mommy

Look at the sweet message that Nicholas wrote for me! What a great way to start my day! I love this little guy :)

A Conversation with Eeyore

Rachel had a little conversation with Eeyore in her crib before going to sleep. She's started making this cute little gurgling sound when she's relaxed and happy. I guess it's kind of like a cat's purr.

Lazy Sunday Morning

Stuart was off to the horse show again today. He left before dawn so I got up and enjoyed some coffee and quiet time all to myself. I'll really have to consider doing that more often.

Look at these sweet little ones sleeping peacefully! Nothing's sweeter!

Nicholas usually sleeps with his little lamp on and often with stuffed animals or books piled upon his bed. Notice all of the books on his bed this time. We just bought these books this weekend at our local library's used book sale. If you read this blog you know I'm a book addict. Lately I don't buy anything for me but I'm always on the lookout for great children's books at great prices. I racked up! I got 50 awesome quality children's books for $19. You can't beat that! We even got "The King's Stilts" which Grandmother reads to him when we go to Baton Rouge. I've looked for this book in the stores but have never found it. We got a like-new hard copy of it for only $1.00!

We took the day off and just played around the house in our PJ's most of the day. I love lazy days like this!

More sweetness to melt a Mama's heart...

Pumas vs. Wolves and a Day in Fort Worth

We had so much fun at Nicholas' first soccer game this morning. Look how cute these little guys are! They are having a blast :)

Nicholas was so excited to go out and make the starting kick that he forgot which direction he was supposed to kick the ball. Check out this cute picture of the coach and assistant coach helping him out (a little too late)!

We were so sad that Daddy had to miss the game but he was doing something pretty cool too. He has been doing a lot of event photographer for his business, Stuart Chance Photography. Today he was the event photographer for the Dallas-Fort Worth Appaloosa Horse Club's Spring Spectacular competition. This was a neat priviledge to get the chance to work this show, especially since it was only his second time to be the event photographer for a horse show (and actually it was also his second time to ever see a horse show in person!). But he is such a quick learner and has really gotten good at capturing the pictures that the exhibitors are looking for.

So after the soccer game, we headed over to Fort Worth to watch Daddy in action and show the kids around the horse show. It was fun watching Stuart work and Nicholas got a great kick out of the whole experience.

We had lunch there and stayed to watch the show for a while. It was fun to see the "dirt zamboni" as it cleaned up the dirt between exhibits. Rachel was really enthralled with the tractor and couldn't take her eyes off of it as it went around and around the arena floor.

The show was not likely to end until late tonight so we didn't hang around. We kissed Daddy good-bye and went off to find more fun things to explore. We went to a big playground in North Richland Hills that we've never been to before. I just learned about it and I wanted to check it out because it is handicap accessible and I wanted to get some ideas for the all-inclusive playground I'm involved with in our town.

Nicholas was excited to see how big the playground was and couldn't wait to go play!

Nicholas always tries to cross the monkey bars but he always drops before he makes it all the way across. But not anymore! He made it all the way across and he took his new found confidence and did it again over and over and over and over. I'm so proud of him!

After the park, we had to cool off and what better way than ice cream! Cool and refreshed but tired nonetheless we decided to head home. On our way, we got stopped at a railroad track. We actually don't see trains go by very often so we enjoyed watching the train right in front of us.

What a fun day! It would have been more fun if Daddy had been there too, especially for me since I was outnumbered the whole time!

Upwards Soccer

Nicholas joined a soccer team this year through Upwards Soccer. His team is made up of 9 little boys and they are the Pumas. They have an hour practice once a week and Nicholas is really enjoying it and he's doing great at it. Here are some pictures from tonight's practice.

Here are Stuart and Rachel watching the practice from the sidelines...

At the end of practice, the coach takes a few minutes to talk to the guys about the practice but also about character and integrity then he finishes up by reads to them a scripture from the Bible. And you've got to have a team cheer to wrap things up! GO PUMAS!

Nicholas is enjoying soccer and he is doing really well.

The Pumas have their first game tomorrow morning. Wish them luck!

River Legacy Park

I had to go to Arlington to run an errand today so I thought I'd make the most of the trip with the kids and show them around where we used to live. We had lunch at Simply Burgers, one of our favorite burger joints. They've moved to a more upscale location since we lived there but they still have their big budda on the counter. Yes, a burger joint with a buddha! The owners are oriental but they know how to make a mean jalapeno cheeseburger. And it was neat bringing the kids to one of our old hangouts.

We also stopped by to see the progress on the new stadium for the Dallas Cowboys.

But the highlight of our trip was definitely going to River Legacy Park. We hiked on a trail and Nicholas found this cool tree that he said looked like a bow. Good thinking, Little Buddy!

Then we went to the playground and had fun playing with some other kids there.

But Nicholas was most excited when he heard the distant song of the ice cream truck! Hooray for the ice cream truck! What a perfect way to cool off after a hike and playtime.

On the way home, I noticed Nicholas reading something in the backseat. I turned around and saw him studying my map book of Dallas. He followed streets with his finger then flipped the page to keep following it along its path. He loves looking at maps and often asks questions about how to read them.

I can't help but love these pictures of Rachel that I took at the playground. I love the expressions on her face and those big blue eyes. So cute!

Attempting Lift Off

I'm sure I've got the info in one of these many baby books I have that I never have time to read but what's up with babies doing this flying thing with their arms?

Rachel just started doing it. I have pictures of me doing it as a baby and Nicholas did it for a very brief period when he was a baby. Just watching Rachel, it seems to be something she does when she's trying to figure out how to get going and crawl because she looks around with a very serious look on her face and then gets frustrated and fusses because she end up anywhere.

Whatever the reason, I'm enjoying it this brief phase. It's super cute to me. I've started singing to her about flying like a bird when she does it and it always makes her laugh at me.

Fee Fi Fo Fum!

They said it couldn't be done. They said they were perfect as they were. How can you improve upon perfection? But Frito-Lay did it. They have created a giant and he's on the loose. Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell some cheesiness and I want some!

What am I talking about?? GIANT CHEETOS!!

We love our "salty snacks". Yes, that's the politically correct term in the snack food world, not Junk Food as I've always called them. Either way, we love them. And it's super neat when Stuart brings home surprises like this from the company store because they often get these goodies before they are readily available in grocery stores. Go out and get ya some!

Cute Rachel Videos

I just had to share these cute videos of Rachel from a few weeks ago.

Rachel blowing raspberries...

Rachel giggling...

It Won't Be Like This For Long

Rachel has been fussier than usual this week and we haven't figured out exactly why. For starters, she doesn't want to lie down in her crib when I put her down for a nap. Sometimes I think it's separation anxiety because she's fine while I'm in her room putting things away but she starts crying as soon as I leave the room. She ends up not napping and of course that makes her really fussy by the end of the day. So at bedtime, she sometimes cries and squirms for a while, even while being held and rocked, but then she finally settles down and falls asleep.

Other times I think she is having teething pain. She chews on everything and Orajel sometimes seems to calm her down. But she really isn't drooling much which is a classic sign of teething.

Last week at the Easter Egg Hunt, it was a challenge to really be able to share the experience with Nicholas because Rachel was fussing a lot and wanted to be held the whole time. I love holding her but I also wanted to spend time with Nicholas and I wanted to eat my $2.25 hot dog in peace but neither of those things really happened like I had hoped. It wasn't much fun holding her and trying to push the empty stroller around on bumpy, hilly grass while also trying to take pictures of Nicholas and keep up with him. It was a fun egg hunt but I was wiped out by the time it was over and just wanted to go home.

I've been thinking about how much harder things are now that we have two children. Don't get me wrong. I love it. It's what I've dreamed of. And it's about as hard as I expected it would be. But I do miss being able to get through the day without guessing about why a child is crying and playing hit or miss to try to make her happy. It's just hard at times to juggle two little ones, especially when they both need me at the same time and in totally different ways. I ran across this song tonight and it was just what I needed to hear and just the right time.

Check out It Won't Be Like This For Long by Darius Rucker. I'm such a sap. It made me cry and I had to go watch my little Rachel sleeping and give her lots of kisses.

Here are the lyrics in case you have any trouble understanding him or if the link above doesn't work...

It Won't Be Like This For Long
by Darius Rucker

He didn't have to wake up
He'd been up all night
Layin’ there in bed listenin’
To his new born baby cry
He makes a pot of coffee
He splashes water on his face
His wife gives him a kiss and says
It gonna be OK

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon we'll look back laughin’
At the week we brought her home
This phase is gonna fly by
So baby just hold on
‘Cause it won't be like this for long

Four years later ‘bout 4:30
She's crawling in their bed
And when he drops her off at preschool
She's clinging to his leg
The teacher peels her off of him
He says what can I do
She says now don't you worry
This’ll only last a week or two

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon you'll drop her off
And she won’t even know you're gone
This phase is gonna fly by
If you can just hold on
It won’t be like this for long

Some day soon she'll be a teenager
And at times he'll think she hates him
Then he'll walk her down the aisle
And he'll raise her veil
But right now she's up and cryin’
And the truth is that he don't mind
As he kisses her good night
And she says her prayers

He lays down there beside her
‘Til her eyes are finally closed
And just watchin’ her it breaks his heart
Cause he already knows

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon that little girl is gonna be
All grown up and gone
Yeah, this phase is gonna fly by
So, he's tryin’ to hold on

‘Cause it won’t be like this for long

Party at Boomerangs

For Christmas, Uncle Steve O. wanted to share with Nicholas some of the cool super hero shows that he used to watch when he was Nicholas' age. So he gave Nicholas two DVDs full of episodes from the cartoon, "Super Friends", a union of super heroes that fight an odd bunch of bad guys. Nicholas fell in love with the shows and watches them every chance he gets.

Nicholas loves bounce houses so we planned the party at Boomerangs which is an open building space filled with 8 or so giant bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses. I asked him what kind of theme he wanted for the party. I fully expected that he would say Star Wars but he said Super Friends without hesitation. Super Friends was a series back in the 1970's so there is no chance of finding true Super Friends invitations anywhere. I asked if we could just send Batman or Superman invitations because they were both part of the Super Friends team. Nicholas said that wouldn't work because it had to be Super Friends. (I'm thinking...Thanks a lot Uncle Steve!) So I searched online and found a Super Friends graphic and made our own invitations.

Inside the invitation we said that Super Hero Nicholas needed the help of his Super Friends and called them all to the Hall of Justice for a celebration wearing their favorite super hero costume. It was a lot of fun. Nicholas wanted to be Aquaman but you can't really find Aquaman costumes anywhere so he settled for Batman.

As the birthday boy, Nicholas got to sit in the giant inflatable chair at the end of the table as everyone sang Happy Birthday to him. He was a little embarrassed and kept making silly faces.

The party turned out great and I just wish we had thought to get a big group picture of all of the kids in their super hero costumes. That would have been really cute. Thanks to all of his super friends that came to celebrate his birthday with him!

Wild About Flower Mound

Nicholas was scheduled to have his first soccer game this morning but it was cancelled because all of the rain has made the field too muddy to play on. We were ok with having a lazy Saturday morning where we didn't have to rush out of the house to get somewhere.

We went to a birthday party at Excite gym. They always have the coolest parties. I had wanted to have Nicholas' party there but didn't schedule it early enough. But he had fun playing there today.

After the party we headed to the Wild About Flower Mound festival. Nicholas loved riding in the school bus shuttle to the festival. He thought that was so cool!

We met up with some friends at the festival and had a good time visiting with them as we walked around looking at the exhibits. I was amazed at how many people were there especially considering the bad weather we have had and the chance of a downpour at any minute. It was a great event. The kids especially loved all of the bounce houses and the barrel train.

Nicholas also loved this wheel game where you can win something on every spin. He didn't care that the only prizes were promotional trinket items with North Texas Tollway Authority on it. We now own several of them that we can call our own.

I enjoyed talking with Larry O'Flinn at the Dunaway and Associates exhibit. He was there with an awesome display of the proposed plans for the Wilson, Carmel, Ruff tracts where the all-inclusive wooden playground will be built. Here's a peek at the master plan.


Larry said that they will begin working on the design plans for the playground in the next few months and will start building it next year. I had big plans to do a lot of fundraising for the playground to make it even better than the town had planned but my life is completely different now that Rachel is here. I am so passionate about this project but my family comes first and this phase of my life is pretty hectic right now. I just can't seem to find a spare moment to get the fundraising ball rolling on it.